The Night I Found a Cat

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

[NOTE: SOME OF THE NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO “PROTECT THE INNOCENT”]

I had been walking around the Irvington neighborhood area here in Portland at about 3 o’clock in the morning with my usual sense of purpose and direction when I heard this not so much loud mewing as this sort of cat vocal alarm – it was like a series of loud, extended wails the like of which I had never heard before. I stopped and looked to see where it was coming from, and saw this cat which was so young at the time that I didn’t recognize the breed as Siamese. What I could tell was that whatever type of cat it was, it had such a thin coat of fur on it that it was undoubtedly freezing and had likely been abandoned. I had to wait for about 15 min. for the cat to calm down and trust me enough to pick it up, and it took about another 30 min. of holding it inside my jacket for it to shiver itself back to a bearable body heat and stop crying out.
I then took the as-yet-unnamed cat to the local QFC, which was open 24 hrs. They wouldn’t accept my Oregon Trail Card for cat food and I didn’t have any cash on me, but a really nice guy who worked there who I told about the situation grabbed one of those $0.39 cans of cat food and brought some water out, so I could at least give the little cat something. As the cat dined and I smoked a cigarette the guy was also kind enough to give me, he told me he had grown up with a pure-bred Siamese cat and identified the cat I had as being one: “blue eyes, and everything.” Later, another young couple, a man and a woman this time, came out and also mentioned the same thing (something like, “Wow! Blue eyes! That’s a pure-bred Siamese!”). I told them I had just found the cat out on the street a few minutes ago and thus I assumed it had been abandoned, and the woman said I was lucky to have found this one. The guy from QFC also mentioned that sometimes he’d heard of people abusing cats and then leaving them out to die, which proved to be borne out in this case when I brought the cat back to Horinga’s place and Horinga’s daughter, Anastasia, noted that the cat’s whiskers had been cut (which I had missed). I guess if there’s one good thing about this happening when it did: as Dante was a kitten, and still growing, his whiskers were able to grow back (or, grow more, I guess), to what at least appears now to be a manageable length, and thus he’s not going to be as crippled as an adult cat would have been, because cats use their whiskers to navigate through spaces, kinda like how bats use sonar to get around (or whatever; from what little I know).
One last thing I will say about Dante (Horinga named him that later): he makes a good fit in this household because all of us have the good sense not to try to tell him what to do. I found this out not only on the way home, but even on the short walk to QFC from where I found him: Dante had just barely and recently got his body heat back to a somewhat-normal temperature and already he was jumping out of my jacket and running ahead of me, exploring and checking things out. I had to run to keep up with him! Things didn’t change on the walk home, either, despite the fact that a light but still-cold winter Portland rain had begun falling. “Here cat,” I would say, struggling to keep up. “Are you sure you don’t want to get back in my jacket?” Every now and then on that first walk home, though, Dante would take me up on my repeated offers to get him off the ground – by scampering up and riding on my shoulders. Whatever, I thought, at least I have a home to take him to and get him off the street.
When I got him home, Horinga took to him immediately and fed him some leftover chicken – which was a big improvement over the $0.39 canned tuna (or whatever it was), if Dante’s mewing response was any indication. He was so emphatic abut the chicken – if that’s the word for it – that the easy thing to say here would be, “you could’ve taped it and made a commercial out of it,” but strictly speaking, that wouldn’t be accurate, because if you taped whatever Dante was doing at the time – it truly was more like singing than anything – and tried to use it in a commercial like a cat was really doing that over whatever food it was eating, people wouldn’t believe it. It was truly odd, but good, if you know what I mean.
Also, Dante has demonstrated on at least one occasion that he is not a cat to be messed with. Around us and whomever else has happened to visit, he is a docile, mellow, cool cat – if not particularly prone to follow anyone’s agenda other than his own – but on this one particular occasion, a somewhat-sketchy acquaintance of Horinga’s (a fellow recent transplant to Portland from Horinga’s hometown much further down the coast) invited herself over for a visit and brought her dog along, too. Well, I’ve read somewhere that one way or another, pets can pick up on and reflect their owner’s emotional energy to whatever degree, given certain circumstances apply, and I imagine dogs can tend to be much more like this than cats, since dogs tend to be much more social animals, descended as they are from critters that hunt in packs, which cats come from a line of mostly solitary hunters.
But, whatever the reason, Dante apparently took one look at the dog belonging to Horinga’s needy, pushy acquaintance and scratched him bloody across the snout with one swipe – behavior he has not only never (to my knowledge) exhibited before or since, but never given any indication he is capable of, either.
Long story short: you would not want to mess with this cat. But, if you understand that (and heaven help you if you don’t), he’s awesome and friendly, a great cat to have around as part of the household, even if he perhaps may be smarter than all the rest of us living here put together, if for no other reason than he has us would-be sentient beings at his beck and call, no matter what.
Dante rules. Bow to Dante, or suffer the consequences.

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